Summary: Jesus is alive, so be sure and be glad today. Be sure of a glorious future, and be glad even in times of grief today.
Judy Packard of Lake Leelanau, Michigan, talks about the time her neighbor, visiting the Holy Land, sent a letter describing the beautiful gardens.
Her 6-year-old mused, “I wonder if he saw the rose.”
“What rose?” Judy asked.
“You know,” said her child, “like the Bible women saw. They went to that garden where Jesus was buried and they saw Christ had a rose!” (Judy Packard, “Kids of the Kingdom,” Christian Reader, www.PreachingToday.com)
Bad joke, I know, but when Jesus came out of the grave he had not a rose, but so much more for those of us who believe in Him. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to 1 Peter 1, 1 Peter 1, where we see how Christ’s resurrection benefits us today.
1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (NIV)
The Apostle Peter is writing to a group of believers who found themselves to be “strangers in the world,” “scattered” throughout all of Asia Minor, in what is now Northern Turkey.
That word, “scattered” (in verse 1), is the word diaspora, and i was used in Bible days of the Jews who were separated from their homeland. Here, Peter uses it of Christians who found themselves dispersed (or scattered) from their own homes in places that were strange to them.
You see, The Roman government under Nero had just started to persecute Christians, and many of them had fled for their lives. Even so, there is hope for them, AND there is hope for us who sometimes feel like strangers in a world hell-bent for self-destruction.
1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (NIV)
The resurrection of Christ gives us a “living hope” in the midst of difficult times. That means it is a sure hope, a certain hope, not a dead hope.
George Dixon was a lieutenant in the Confederate Army, who carried around a $20 gold piece that his fiancée had given him in the early days of the war. During the battle of Shiloh, a union musket ball struck him—actually it struck the gold coin, which saved his life. From then on, that dented, gold coin went with him wherever he went. It was his good luck piece, which he was often seen kneading with his fingers.
Eventually, Lt. Dixon took the coin onto the C.S.S. Hunley, a confederate submarine he staunchly believed could break the Union blockade. After sinking the U.S.S. Housatonic, the Hunley herself sank, taking Lt. Dixon and his crew to their deaths. Recently the coin was found when the submarine was raised, a silent testimony to the fact that his golden, good-luck piece could not save him. (Scientists Find Gold Coin in Confederate Sub, www.CNN.com; www.PreachingToday.com)
It was a false hope, a dead hope. But in the resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ, we have a living hope, a sure and certain hope. One pastor put it this way: “The world offers promises full of emptiness, but Easter offers emptiness full of promise. Empty cross, empty tomb, empty grave-clothes … all full of promise.” (Carolyn Arends, What's So Good About Good Friday? Kyria.com, 4-10-09; www.PreachingToday.com)
Jesus rose from the dead, so we have a living hope. That means we can live our lives with confidence. We can be sure. We can be certain of a glorious future no matter how bad things get today.
The resurrection of Christ is a sure and certain fact of history. His empty tomb and his post resurrection appearances together form two irrefutable pieces of evidence for the resurrection of Christ.
If the disciples stole Jesus’ body, as the Jewish leaders first claimed, then there is no way to explain His appearances to hundreds of people over a 40 day period after He died, many of which refused to give up their faith in the resurrection even in the face of persecution and death.
On the other hand, if Jesus’ followers were hallucinating when they claimed to have seen Him, then all somebody had to do was go to the tomb and show them Jesus’ body. The only explanation that fits both pieces of evidence is the fact that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. It is an irrefutable fact of history.
I like the way Peter Larson once put it. He said, “Despite our efforts to keep him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin's womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked ‘No Entrance’ and left through a door marked ‘No Exit.’” (Peter Larson, Prism, Jan/Feb 2001; www.PreachingToday.com)